What is Success?
“What does success look like to you?” We’ve all answered this question in an interview at one time, or another, likely repeating a rehearsed answer about wanting to climb the corporate ladder and make a difference in the company. But, have you ever really taken the time to reflect on your definition of success?
Just like many people in the world, I used to be obsessed with financial and career success. I would spend hours on Glassdoor looking for the best positions available. I would also spend unhealthy amounts of time on LinkedIn which often left me feeling jealous of my peers who had better job titles.
Success: A Form of Control
In my opinion, success is just a disguised form of control. Our interpretation of success shapes our beliefs, which drive our actions.
- Success in college is determined by your GPA. This forces students to spend hours on end in the library, neglecting their social life and mental health, just to ace the next midterm.
- Success in social media is determined by the number of followers you have. This forces influencers to buy fake followers and engagement to beat their competition.
- Success in career is determined by your job title and pay. This forces employees to work early mornings and late nights in hopes of getting a promotion.
But why do we just accept these measures of success as if they are only truth?
Our definition and perception of success are often ingrained into our subconscious mind as a result of how we were raised. Your parents, friends, and the media all play a role in shaping what success looks like to you. More often than not, our view of success is a big corner office at the end of the hall with a secretary just outside, telling us where our next client meeting will be held. And while that may seem like “the dream” (as perpetuated by the media and family expectations), it isn’t necessarily what’s best for us.
Defining Your Success
If we don’t stop and ask ourselves what it is that we want out of life and what success truly means to us, we may find ourselves missing out on what’s important. Instead of traveling across South America with close friends, we may find ourselves working overtime at the office. Instead of finding a creative outlet by starting our own business, we may find ourselves bringing work home because we’re focused on getting that next promotion. It’s so easy to miss what we truly value when we’re controlled by someone else’s version of success.
Now is the time to question your meaning of success and re-evaluate whether it is what you truly want. You can spend your life chasing someone else’s dreams, or you can define your success and begin to live according to your terms. Because ultimately, it is the only way to live.